Officials released photos on Monday giving a glimpse inside the now-condemned home in far southwest suburban Joliet Township where 16-month-old Semaj Crosby was found dead last week.
The baby was found Wednesday night under a couch in the home in the 300 block of Louis Road, a day after she was reported missing, according to the Will County sheriff’s office.
As police conduct a “suspicious death” investigation, the newly released photos and reports provided by the Will County Land Use Department in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the Chicago Sun-Times appear to back up the “deplorable” conditions inside the home that authorities described last week.
Sheriff’s police requested the land use department inspect the home on Thursday – a day after Semaj was found dead – and they “red-tagged” the home after finding a non-functioning stove.
“The entire structure appeared unsanitary because of the heavily soiled carpets, walls, garbage and [it] contains a serious degree of filth,” an inspector noted in her report.
“The kitchen area of the home had several piles; on the stove was stacked food in foil pans and there [were] pizza boxes stacked on the table. The cabinet’s doors in the kitchen [were] broken and/or missing,” the report says.
The inspector went on to describe the back door and electrical panel blocked by “strollers, black garbage bags, toys, clothing and containers.”
The home was deemed “unfit for human occupancy.”
A notice of the violations was sent to JJB Rentals LLC, which owns the property. A representative for the Channahon-based company could not immediately be reached for comment.
An attorney for Semaj’s mother, Sheri Gordon, declined to comment after being provided copies of the photos by the Sun-Times.
“Ms. Gordon is extremely distraught over the death of her only daughter,” according to a statement released by her attorney’s on Thursday. “She will continue to support the investigation in this matter to the best of her abilities.”
Authorities with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services had been at the home less than three hours before she vanished to investigate a previous neglect allegation. The investigators saw “no obvious hazards or safety concerns” for the little girl or her two brothers before they left, officials have said.
A DCFS spokeswoman declined to comment on the investigation on Monday afternoon.
The girl’s godmother said “squatters” brought bags of dirty clothes with them into the home, and she saw 10 cans of roach spray on the kitchen counter when she went back during the search for Semaj.
An autopsy did not rule on the girl’s cause of death, pending the results of lab and toxicology tests. There were no obvious signs of trauma or injury, according to sheriff’s police, who said they were still “interviewing cooperating witnesses and some family members” on Friday. No arrests have been made.
Funeral services for Semaj are scheduled for this Friday.